Reviews// Diablo III

Posted 22 May 2012 16:25 by
My mouse hand hurts in a way that it has not for many, many years. This is because over the last week I have taxed the digits on my right hand to limits of my endurance ? my recent activity would have crippled a lesser being. I have hunted the devil to the brink of oblivion and survived to bring back this tale of magic, mayhem and selling epic loot to people with more money than either sense or time (or I would if the Real Money Auction House was up and running at time of writing).

I am of course talking about Diablo III. It has been twelve years since the release of Diablo II and eleven since the expansion - Lord of Destruction - and the defeat of the final Prime Evil, Baal. When the community caught wind of a third game in the franchise we went wild with speculation and anxious anticipation. As details became clear over the years some of us saw reason to doubt the product Blizzard was fashioning deep in its infernal workshops...

Were those doubts and fearful rumblings founded in reality, or do the doubters now feel foolish for nay-saying the behemoth that is Blizzard?

Happy Sounding Gibberish
What did I think of Diablo III? Well, if a stranger came up to me in the street and asked me, they would probably receive a string of incomprehensible, but happy sounding gibberish. Thanks to the written word I can express my thoughts and feelings more eloquently. So, pull up a seat my friends and let me tell you a tale of a wizard called Cassandra and her badass adventures in the lands of Sanctuary.

Diablo III starts in the town of New Tristram, a town that sprung up amid the ruin of the old town of the same name that was central to previous instalments. Once again the area is swarming with the undead, raised by the power of a fallen star that has smashed through the old chapel, taking the Horadric mage and player companion Deckard Cain with it into the depths.

You are drawn to New Tristram by the sight of the fallen star as it scorches the vaults of heaven and plummets to Sanctuary. Upon arrival you are tasked by Cain's 'niece', Leah, with rescuing him from the chapel. If you have watched any of the CG trailers you?ll recognise her as the bob-haired brunette who has a vision of hell unleashed upon the land. If, by chance, you haven?t seen them yet, but still plan on buying the game I recommend not watching them because they are scenes taken straight from the game that are spoilerific.

The story is broken into four acts and each act takes you to a new location where the overarching tale is unfolded via smaller struggles that add to the whole. You will tackle demonic lords, face betrayal and sink to the very depths of despair. Throughout all this you will be accompanied by one of three companions, each of which has their own tale to tell.

I haven?t experienced all three yet, but the Enchantress? story is that of the loss of everything and of finding a place in the new world. She is a sweet, almost innocent girl despite the power she is capable of wielding. I have yet to hear the full story of the other two because I plan on having one constant companion by my side throughout each difficulty setting - saving their story lends an extra incentive to play through multiple times.

Difficulty Levels
The difficulty settings (Normal, Nightmare, Hell and finally Inferno) are unlocked by completing each in turn. If the differences between Normal and Nightmare are anything to go by, the challenge is ramped up considerably with each game completion.

Blizzard has done a marvellous job of pacing the game; you are never too far under-levelled or over-levelled to cause it to be too challenging or easy. Each boss has his (or her) own unique challenges, and by paying attention you can gauge any of the incoming attacks through telegraphing animations. Basically, if you see something strange appearing on the ground around your feet that you did not put there then get the hell out of there, something bad and potentially lethal is about to go down.

Each class has its own unique skillset that steadily unlocks with each successive level. You are given two main skills that are mapped to the mouse buttons; four abilities on the numeric strip/pad on your keyboard. Each of these either increases or uses a class specific resource, and there are three passive skills. On top of these skills, each active skill has various runes that can be attached to modify it in new and interesting ways including adding more damage or different elemental effects.
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